Posts Tagged 'Staff'

The Answers She Gives

In honor of Employee Appreciation Day on Friday, March 4, we asked Writer-in-Residence Kendra Greene to share one of the stories she’s been collecting at the DMA. The following is from her conversation with Genet Mamuye, Visitor Services Representative:

Genet Mamuye and Kendra Greene in front of one of Genet's favorite spots, The Icebergs.

Genet Mamuye and Kendra Greene in one of Genet’s favorite spots, in front of The Icebergs.

On a slow day, Genet Mamuye talks to hundreds of people. There are little kids and people in their nineties and first-timers and non-English speakers. There are regulars who come almost every day and there are people who don’t know where to start. There are people who ask where to eat downtown and how to get their art on the walls and is there anything for sale? What should I see?

Genet started with the DMA 23 years ago, and spent her first nine years as a gallery attendant. In the early 2000s, she moved to the Visitor Services Desk, where you’ll find her now. There was a time when she only saw big crowds when there were big exhibitions, but now she sees more people than ever.

Visitors are always asking Genet what her favorite thing is at the Museum. That’s where they want to start. But the short answer is: She doesn’t have one. Sure, she walks the DMA two or three times a week to see if anything is new. She also keeps up with the cultural goings on in the area so she can answer the questions that have nothing to do with the Museum she represents. She believes the main thing is to ensure whoever walks in has a good experience. Which is to say, she wants to give an answer, but what she really wants is for visitors to connect with the things that matter to them. She knows people who swoon for contemporary work can’t be sent anywhere else. She finds it’s a safe bet that children and families will fall in love with Egypt on the third floor. If you announce you only have fifteen minutes for your visit and time’s a-ticking, you’ll be sent to the Reves Collection on Level 3. And when Genet asks you on your way out how it went, chances are you’ll thank her.

Once, years ago, a young man asked his father to go to the Museum. It was the young man’s birthday. The pair was from out of town. The young man adored Ellsworth Kelly, and only when they arrived did he realize there was an exhibition of Kelly’s work. What luck! The young man and his father asked Genet about it, and were crestfallen to realize the installation wasn’t quite done, the show not quite yet open. They had come so far, and they wouldn’t be back in time to see it.

It was at that moment that Mr. Kelly’s car pulled up. They could see it through the glass doors. Genet quietly noted the arrival to the young man and his father, and left it at that. Mr. Kelly was so gracious, so nice. He took that young man on a private tour of the not yet open show. The young man was overjoyed, and even now thinking about it, Genet brings her hand to her heart.

Working with the public, in Genet’s view, means you have to be open to learn. You have to be respectful and you have to be positive. Certainly, you can’t assume. There are people that wander past three times, obviously lost, and you have to find the way to approach them. Visitors come back on later visits and remember Genet. But, as she says, “It’s not just me. All my coworkers are really good. We have to be. We open our doors for everybody.”

A. Kendra Greene is The Center for Creative Connections Visiting Artist at the DMA.

Conservation Time Travel

Uncrated recently caught up with the DMA’s  associate conservator, Fran Baas, who joined the Museum in November. This summer, you can find her working on the 1908 Viennese Wittgenstein silver cabinet, pictured below.

FranBaas

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
My title is Associate Conservator, and I oversee the activities involved in the long-term preservation of the DMA’s permanent collection of objects and textiles. This comprehensive approach includes treatment, research, and analysis, and the preventive care of the collection.

What might an average day entail?
Each day is very different and has me running around all over the Museum. I might be assessing objects as potential loan candidates, responding to e-mails, writing reports, and doing actual benchwork. 

For example, recently, over the course of two days, I treated three plaster “pears,” dehydrated a SCOBY (a colony of bacteria/yeast that is part of a contemporary piece), conditioned silica gel, cleaned a few inches of an intricate early 20th-century Viennese silver piece, discussed with curators and collections staff the “inherent vice” of an extremely fragile piece, helped identify materials in an African headdress, and assisted in the treatment of some large oversized paintings. My job keeps me hopping across decades, centuries, and millennia . . . not to mention across the world geographically!

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
 I absolutely love my job. It’s a huge responsibility, but a privilege that I do not take lightly. The biggest challenge is never having enough time!

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
For a long time, I struggled with where I fit. I am very “left-brained, right-brained,” as they say. Not only do I love working with my hands and looking at art, but I love science and the process of discovery. It took me awhile to find a profession that combines art and science. Conservation is a field where I get to do my favorite things in an effort to preserve art and artifacts for future generations to appreciate. I have the best job in the world.

Do you have a favorite work in the DMA’s collection yet?
As cliché as this sounds, I fall in love with whatever piece I am currently working on. Getting to work with a piece up close, in conjunction with the material analysis and background historical research, allows me to really “get to know” a piece . . . and as a result fall in love.

What are you looking forward to in your future here at the DMA?
I look forward to getting to know each and every object and textile in the DMA’s encyclopedic collection!

Costumes from the Collection

Every year I struggle to think of a creative new Halloween costume to wear. Oftentimes the month somehow escapes me and I end up recycling one of my old costumes: a cat, witch, or something with a mask. However, this year I realized that inspiration is all around me in the DMA galleries. As I wandered through the Museum this month, I was flooded with images of myself as a fierce Hindu goddess with multiple arms, an affluent Asante chief covered with gold, or even a mummy wrapped in linen. Excited by all the endless possibilities, I decided to ask my fellow authors which artwork they would choose to base a Halloween costume on.

Amanda Batson

“Amanda Panda” drew her inspiration for a Halloween costume from the Banquete chair with pandas.
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Jessica Fuentes

“I would be Marcel Dzama’s The Minotaur. The sculpture already lends itself to a costume as there appears to be a person underneath the Minotaur’s mask-like head and the white cloth.  I like that the Minotaur should be a scary creature, but it looks defeated as it is portrayed here, with one horn, one arm, and one leg.  I also like that the artist includes the artist tools, paint brushes in a can, I think it would be fun to walk around as this character with all of the accessories.”
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Andrea Severin

Andrea created a headpiece inspired by our new Karla Black installation.
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Artie

Andrea’s adorable dog Artie also wanted to dress up!
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Hannah Burney

As for me, I decided to base my costume on the spooky gorgon head featured on the inside of this Black-figure kylix. In Greek mythology gorgons are treacherous female creatures that have snakes for hair and can turn anyone who looks them in the eye to stone.

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Artworks used:

  • Banquete chair with pandas, Fernando Campana and Humberto Campana, 2006, stuffed animals on steel base, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund
  • Bird-form finial, Zenú culture, South America, Colombia, c. A.D. 500-1500, gold, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison
  • Black-figure kylix, Greek, Attic, 6th century B.C., ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green
  • Necessity, Karla Black, 2012, cellophane, sellotape, paint, body moisturisers and cosmetics, Courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London and Galerie Gisele Captain, Cologne
  • The Minotaur, Marcel Dzama, 2008, plaster, gauze, rope, fabric, chair, bucket, and paintbrushes, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Friday Photos: Welcome Andrea!

Andrea Vargas Severin, Coordinator of Teaching Programs

We would like to introduce you to Andrea Vargas Severin, our new colleague and friend.  As the newest member of the Teaching Programs and Partnerships team in the Education Division, Andrea will be responsible for various details related to our work with teacher audiences, including professional development workshops, teacher in-services, and the educator e-newsletter.  You can expect to see her out and about before too long, providing tours to visitors of all ages and coordinating several partnership programs.  She will also be a key member of the team that writes web-based teaching materials.

Andrea has a Masters of Art in Art Education with an emphasis on Museum Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in the History of Art and Studio Art from Vanderbilt University.  Her previous experiences at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Richmond National Battlefield Park, and Mexic-Arte Museum will bring a fresh perspective to our work.  We are delighted to have her as a colleague.

Look for Andrea’s first post on this blog soon!  If you’d like to learn a little more about Andrea, you can visit the Authors page.  And if you’d like to meet her in person, come join us for the upcoming Designing Exhibitions Teacher Workshop on February 11.

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Seldom Scene: The Grinch Visits

On the first Tuesday of every month, admission to the DMA is free, and we have special activities for our youngest visitors until 3:00 p.m. On December 7, we had a special guest in C3, the Grinch (before his heart grew three sizes in one day). He stopped by from the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical was opening later that night. DMA staff members could not pass up this photo opportunity.

Insourced: Works by Dallas Museum of Art Staff

The much-anticipated Dallas Museum of Art staff art exhibition is fast approaching. Opening this weekend, the exhibition occurs every two years and is an opportunity for DMA employees to present their work to coworkers and general public. This year’s exhibition, Insourced: Works by Dallas Museum of Art Staff, features sixty-eight works by forty-three artists ranging from our new interns to a preparator who has been with the DMA for over thirty years. Staff members whose “day jobs” range from curators to gallery attendants are included.

The exhibition is unique because anyone who wants to participate can; even the title was selected by a staff vote. Insourced also has an acting curator–conceived and organized collaboratively by Collections and Exhibitions department staffers, the exhibition placement was decided by Erin Murphy, Contemporary Art Curatorial Administrative Assistant and Uncrated contributor. We posted a few “sneak peek” photos here, but please come by and see the works by our talented staff.

The exhibition is on view from December 5, 2010 through March 13, 2011 on Mezzanine 2 next to the Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Library.

 

 

Joni Wilson is the Exhibitions Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art


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